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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

THE NPT AT 50: A Historical Timeline


June 2018
By Daryl G. Kimball

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature on July 1, 1968. Under Articles I and II of the treaty, the nuclear‑weapon states agree not to help non-nuclear-weapon states to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, and the non-nuclear-weapon states permanently forswear the pursuit of such weapons.

William Foster, chief U.S. negotiator on the NPT, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and later Chair of the Arms Control Association Board, signs the NPT July 1, 1968, as President Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson look on. U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk is seated next to the president, and a number of ambassadors are seated at the far end of the table, including Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin (fifth from right among those seated). Photo courtesy of Larry WeilerArticle VI commits each of the states‑parties “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” Acknowledging the necessity of intermediate steps in the process of nuclear disarmament, Article VII allows for the establishment of regional nuclear-weapon-free-zones.

With its near-universal membership, the NPT has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement. Every five years, the 190 states-parties meet to assess progress on achieving key objectives and provide opportunities to discuss new measures to strengthen the treaty.

The negotiation and the indefinite extension of the NPT was not inevitable. Its future viability depends on continued leadership and action to realize its lofty objectives.

1950s

July 29, 1957: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes into existence with the mission of promoting and overseeing the peaceful use of nuclear technology. October 17, 1958: Ireland proposes the first resolution at the United Nations to prohibit the “further dissemination of nuclear weapons.”

1960s

December 4, 1961: The UN General Assembly unanimously approves Resolution 1665, which is based on the earlier Irish draft resolution and calls for negotiations to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states. March 21, 1963: In a press conference, President John Kennedy warns, “I see the possibility in the 1970s of the president of the United States having to face a world in which 15 or 20 or 25 nations may have [nuclear] weapons. I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard.” February 14, 1967: The Treaty of Tlatelolco, the first of five nuclear weapons free zones is negotiated. August 24, 1967: The United States and Soviet Union separately introduce identical draft treaties to the Eighteen- Nation Committee on Disarmament on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. June 12, 1968: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 2373, endorsing the draft text of the NPT. The vote was 95 to 4 with 21 abstentions. July 1, 1968: The NPT is opened for signature and is signed by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and France would not join the treaty until 1992.

1970s

March 5, 1970: The NPT enters into force with 46 states-parties. September 3, 1974: The IAEA publishes the “trigger list” developed by the Zangger Committee, identifying nuclear items that require IAEA safeguards as a condition of export. May 30, 1975: The 91 states-parties to the NPT hold the treaty’s first review conference. The treaty members decide to hold such conferences to review the implementation of the treaty every five years. January 11, 1978: States participating in the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group provide the IAEA with a common set of guidelines they will follow in making nuclear exports.

1980s

India, Pakistan, North Korea, and South Africa advanced their nuclear weapons efforts in relative secrecy. Iran began to secretly acquire uranium-enrichment-related technology from Pakistani suppliers. Taiwan’s covert nuclear weapons program was shut down under U.S. pressure. Argentina and Brazil jointly declare they will pursue nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes. Thirty more states join the NPT during the decade.

1990s

April 3, 1991: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 687 requiring Iraq to eliminate its secret nuclear weapons program, which was revealed after the Iraqi defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. July 10, 1991: South Africa accedes to the NPT. May 23, 1992: Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine sign the Lisbon Protocol committing Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty states-parties vote to extend the treaty indefinitely May 11, 1995 at UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo: Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images)to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states and relinquish the nuclear weapons they inherited from the Soviet Union. April 1, 1993: The IAEA declares North Korea in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations and refers Pyongyang to the UN Security Council. April 11, 1995: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 984 acknowledging the unilateral pledges by the five nuclear-weapon states not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT. May 11, 1995: At the fifth NPT review conference, the states-parties agree to the treaty’s indefinite extension and a package of principles and objectives on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to hold NPT states-parties, particularly the nuclear-weapon states, accountable to their commitments. September 24, 1996: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is opened for signature. May 15, 1997: The IAEA adopts the Model Additional Protocol to enhance inspection authorities to guard against clandestine nuclear weapons activities.

2000sPresident Barack Obama reaffirms U.S. support for the NPT and steps to achieve “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” on April 5, 2009 in Prague. (Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

May 22, 2000: The NPT states-parties agree to a final document at the sixth review conference that outlines the so-called 13 steps for progress toward nuclear disarmament, including an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” January 10, 2003: North Korea announces its withdrawal from the NPT. June 6, 2003: The IAEA issues a report detailing Iranian clandestine nuclear activities that Tehran failed to report to the agency, in violation of its safeguards agreement. December 19, 2003: Libya announces that it will dismantle its WMD programs, including a secret nuclear weapons program, and agrees to IAEA inspections and adherence to an additional protocol. September 19, 2005: North Korea commits to abandoning its nuclear weapons and programs and returning to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards in an agreement of the six-party talks on North Korean denuclearization. September 6, 2008: The Nuclear Suppliers Group agrees to permit trade in nuclear material and technology with India, despite that country’s status as a nonparty to the NPT and de facto nuclear-weapon state.

2010s

May 2010: The eighth NPT review conference agrees to 64-point action plan to strengthen implementation of the treaty. February 5, 2011: The New START agreement between the United States and Russia to cut strategic and offensive arms enters into force. It will expire in 2021 unless extended by mutual agreement. November 2012: The conveners (Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the UN) of a conference to establish a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East announce that the conference will be postponed because not all states in the region agree on an agenda for the conference. March 2013: Norway hosts the first of three Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, with participation from more than 120 states. The conferences focused on scientific findings on the impact of nuclear weapons use on humans, the environment, and global climate.

April 27–May 22, 2015: The ninth Review Conference for the NPT fails to reach consensus on a final conference document over differences about convening a conference on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and disagreements over the pace of implementation of Article VI. A group of 107 states join the “Humanitarian Pledge,” which calls on states “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.” July 14, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curtail Iran sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities under strengthened safeguards. November 2016: UN General Assembly First Committee approves a resolution for a negotiating conference on a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions. July 7, 2017: The second and final round of negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons concluded with states voting 122-1-1 to adopt the treaty. September 20th, 2017: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is opened for signature.

Major nuclear nonproliferation developments

Nuclear-Weapon States Spar at NPT Meeting


June 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The international conference to prepare for the 2020 review of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was marked by quarreling among nuclear-weapon states and revised U.S. positions put forward by the Trump administration.

Tensions among Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States about chemical weapons use in attacks in Syria and the UK, although not part of the NPT agenda, bled into the debate. An April 24 meeting among the five NPT nuclear-weapon states was unable to produce a consensus statement, but the states were united in opposition to assertions by non-nuclear-weapon states that the nuclear powers have not adequately complied with their NPT Article VI obligations to pursue nuclear disarmament negotiations in good faith.

U.S. officials brief reporters April 26 at the 2018 NPT preparatory conference. The speakers (left to right) were Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation; Anita Friedt, acting assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance; and Robert Wood, U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament. (Photo: Eric Bridiers/U.S. Mission)The Trump administration said that U.S. disarmament measures would depend on changes in the international security environment. A U.S. working paper, “Creating the Conditions for Nuclear Disarmament,” presented at the conference contends that the “easing of international tension,” “strengthening of trust,” and other specific conditions are prerequisites for progress on global disarmament.

Some of the specific conditions identified include the denuclearization of North Korea; Iran’s verified compliance with its nonproliferation commitments; the recognition of the right of Israel to exist; adherence by all states to the Model Additional Protocol established by the International Atomic Energy Agency; a moratorium on the production of fissile material; a halt to the increase and diversification of Russian, Chinese, and North Korean nuclear weapons arsenals; an improvement in the transparency of nuclear policies; the development of nuclear disarmament verification technologies; and compliance by all states with all international agreements, particular by Russia with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and by “some” states with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The preparatory talks, held from April 23 to May 4 in Geneva, were divided into three thematic sections: disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear energy. At the conclusion, Adam Bugajski of Poland, the conference chairman, presented a factual summary that was not voted on or adopted by the conference as a consensus document.

Many nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states did agree on supporting several interim measures toward nuclear disarmament, including risk reduction efforts, negative security assurances, extension of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and the resolution of U.S.-Russian compliance disputes involving the INF Treaty.

Dozens of states emphasized their support for the Iran nuclear agreement, subsequently abandoned by U.S. President Donald Trump; advocated for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), including calling for North Korea to sign and ratify the treaty; and supported the negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). The United States announced that it will officially support work toward an FMCT.

Many states welcomed recent developments, including the diplomatic moves between North and South Korea and the July 2017 adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Although France and Russia condemned the prohibition treaty, which is opposed by all the nuclear-weapon states, it was not a major point of contention at the conference.

NPT signatory states agreed on the right of all treaty parties to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and on the importance of nuclear security and nuclear safety. Many highlighted national initiatives to advance these goals.

The United States sparked a debate by stating in a working paper that “the NPT review cycle cannot be the primary mechanism for progress” on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East but that regional states should work to establish the conditions needed to make progress on the initiative. At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, disagreement on this subject blocked agreement on a final consensus document.

The Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement were among those to reject the U.S. approach, stating that the decision during the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference to indefinitely extend the NPT would not have been possible without the resolution on the Middle East calling for a WMD-free zone.

Two nonproliferation statements were circulated for members to sign during the conference. One statement, distributed by Russia and China, expressed support for the Iran nuclear accord. Another denounced North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and welcomed the recent diplomatic overture. Some states did not sign that document because it did not include a call for North Korea to join the CTBT.

The day before the conference’s end, Bugajski released his factual summary. Nuclear-weapon states largely accepted the document and did not point out changes to be made in the document.

Other countries suggested revisions to better reflect the views expressed at the conference. New Zealand, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, recommended adding a reference to maintaining the moratorium on nuclear testing pending the CTBT’s entry into force and removing the word “some” when describing nuclear modernization programs that are not consistent with NPT obligations. Several states argued that the document should assert that states had “welcomed” the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty instead of “noting” it.

The conference selected Shahrul Ikram of Malaysia to be chairman of next year’s preparatory meeting, to be held in New York.

 

Talks prepare for the major review of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2020.

Diplomats Urge Unity Ahead of NPT Meeting


April 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Representatives to the second preparatory committee meeting for the 2020 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference will seek to focus on shared goals in the face of daunting obstacles to a successful outcome.

Adam Bugajski, Poland’s permanent representative to the UN Office and international organizations in Vienna, will chair the meeting, which is scheduled to be held April 23-May 4 in Geneva. Bugajski previously served as security policy director at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Poland’s deputy permanent representative to NATO.

Participants at the first preparatory committee meeting for the 2020 review conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in May 2017 in Vienna. (Photo: United Nations Information Service Vienna / Agata Wozniak)As chair of the conference, Bugajski said he intends to stress that “there is no single road toward disarmament and that disarmament is not only about reductions.”

Bugajski began consulting with member states and civil society representatives shortly after the first preparatory committee meeting in May 2017, he told Arms Control Today in a March 14 email. The consultations included regional seminars in Mexico City, Addis Ababa, and Jakarta and regional group consultations in Geneva, Vienna, and New York. Bugajski also established a task force for the conference at the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Other representatives highlighted the need for practical steps to uphold the NPT regime ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2020 and in light of mounting challenges.

“Our main objective is really quite straightforward, and one hopefully shared by the vast majority of NPT members,” Carl Magnus Eriksson, director and deputy head of the Department for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arms Control Today in a March 12 email. “It is to demonstrate the continued vitality and indispensable role of the NPT framework despite many challenging circumstances.”

Jamie Walsh, Ireland’s deputy director for disarmament and nonproliferation, said in a March 16 email to Arms Control Today, “In order to remain relevant and effective it is critical that the treaty, which has long been at the center of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, doesn’t become stagnant. Simply reiterating commitments is not enough; there must be momentum and progress.”

Diplomats cited a number of challenges that could inhibit progress at the meeting, including a lack of trust among member states, the global security environment, and North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile programs.

Given these challenges, several disarmament representatives encouraged member states to concentrate on areas of common interest.

Robert Wood, the U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, chided those pursuing “unrealistic agendas that cannot gain consensus” in a March 26 email to Arms Control Today. The United States will continue to remind states that “that disarmament efforts cannot be divorced from the broader international security environment,” he wrote.

Eriksson suggested focusing on “practical measures to reduce risks, enhance transparency and build confidence.” Other officials echoed the need for practical measures. Both Nobushige Takamizawa, Japanese permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), and an official in the German foreign ministry, who commented on a nonattribution basis, recommended member states include a focus on implementing previously agreed steps, including the 2010 action plan.

States are already considering how to bridge divides, such as the advancement of disarmament, which could threaten conference unity. The committee will be the first gathering of NPT states-parties since the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in September 2017, which is opposed by nuclear-weapon states. (See ACT, October 2017.)

Walsh, whose government was one of leading negotiators of the 2017 treaty, stated that, at the committee meetings, Ireland would “continue to emphasize the synergies that exist” between the prohibition treaty and the NPT and hopes that the sessions “will offer an opportunity to dispel any suggestion that states that were actively to the fore in negotiating the [prohibition treaty] are somehow disengaging from the NPT.”

Takamizawa encouraged all nuclear-weapon states to take “concrete disarmament measures, even small
steps that they can accomplish on a voluntary basis.”

Hans Brattskar, permanent representative of Norway to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, pointed to the success of cooperative measures between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, such as on nuclear disarmament verification. “From a Norwegian perspective, it is essential to foster the confidence needed for balanced, mutual, irreversible and verifiable reductions of nuclear arsenals in the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, another disarmament body, the long-stalled CD, agreed on Feb. 16 to create subsidiary bodies to take forward a substantive program of work. The 65-member body, which operates on consensus, last agreed to programs of work in 2009 and in 1998.

Five subsidiary committees were established to address the cessation of the nuclear arms race, the prevention of nuclear war, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, new types of weapons of mass destruction, a comprehensive program of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in a Feb. 16 statement, welcomed the move and urged CD members to “redouble their efforts and forge a new consensus for disarmament.” In his email, Bugajski also praised the development, but recommended “caution and patience,” given the failure of the body to implement the program of work adopted in 2009.

On March 15, the CD deadlocked over the coordinators for the five bodies, but after intensive consultations, the matter was resolved by adjusting the program of work.

“As a former French delegate to the CD, I can confirm that, oftentimes, procedural issues are a fig leaf for substantive differences,” wrote Marc Finaud, senior program adviser at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, in a Feb. 16 email to Arms Control Today.

 

Representatives seek practical steps to uphold the nonproliferation regime ahead of the treaty’s 50th anniversary.

Timeline of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

February 2018

Contact: Daryl KimballExecutive Director, (202) 463-7280 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-7280 x104

Updated: February 2018

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) which entered into force in March 1970, seeks to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons. Its 190 states-parties are classified in two categories: nuclear-weapon states (NWS) consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—and non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). Under the treaty, all states-parties commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, and the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. These are the first two “pillars” of the treaty. The third pillar ensures that states-parties can access and develop nuclear technology for peaceful applications.
 
With its near-universal membership, the NPT has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement, with only South Sudan, India, Israel, and Pakistan remaining outside the treaty. The treaty, which was indefinitely extended in 1995, calls for a review conference every five years to assess progress on achieving the treaties key objectives and provide opportunities to discuss new measures to strengthen the treaty. For more information on the NPT, see The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at a Glance.
 
The following timeline provides a brief history of events related to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty from the 1950s to the present.

 


Skip to:  1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

1950s

Franz Matsch, Austria’s permanent representative to the UN and Paul Robert Jolles, executive secretary of the 18-nation Preparatory Commission for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sign a conference agreement to secure facilities for the first General Conference of the IAEA on July 24, 1957 in Vienna. (UN Photo/MB)July 29, 1957: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes into existence with the mission of promoting and overseeing the peaceful use of nuclear technology. President Dwight Eisenhower had called for the creation of such an agency in his December 1953 “Atoms for Peace” proposal. 

October 17, 1958: Ireland proposes the first resolution at the United Nations to prohibit the “further dissemination of nuclear weapons.” Back to Top

1960s

December 4, 1961: The UN General Assembly unanimously approves Resolution 1665, which is based on the earlier Irish draft resolution and calls for negotiations to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states. The resolution says that countries already having nuclear weapons would “undertake to refrain from relinquishing control” of them to others and would refrain “from transmitting information for their manufacture to States not possessing” them. Countries without nuclear weapons would agree not to receive or manufacture them. These ideas formed the basis of the NPT.

President John Kennedy addresses the press in March 1963 in Washington, D.C. (National Archive/Newsmakers)March 21, 1963: In a press conference, President John Kennedy warns, “I see the possibility in the 1970s of the president of the United States having to face a world in which 15 or 20 or 25 nations may have [nuclear] weapons. I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard.” Kennedy made this statement a month after a secret Department of Defense memorandum assessed that eight countries—Canada, China, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and West Germany—would likely have the ability to produce nuclear weapons within 10 years. The study also calculated that, beyond 10 years, the future costs of nuclear weapons programs would diminish and that several more states would likely be able to pursue nuclear weapons, especially if unrestricted testing continued. The risks of such proliferation, which the existing nuclear powers sought to curtail or prevent, largely served as an impetus for drafting the NPT. Today the IAEA assesses that nearly 30 states are capable of developing nuclear weapons, but only nine states are known to possess them.

August 17, 1965: The United States submits to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee its first draft proposal to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union submits its first draft a month later.

February 14, 1967: The Treaty of Tlatelolco, establishing Latin America and the Caribbean as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, is opened for signature. It is the first of five such regional zones to be negotiated. The other zones cover Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and Central Asia. For more information, see Nuclear Weapons Free Zones at a Glance.

August 24, 1967: The United States and Soviet Union separately introduce identical draft treaties to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Circa 1967: Israel secretly acquires the capability to build a nuclear explosive device. 

June 12, 1968: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 2373, endorsing the draft text of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The vote was 95 to 4 with 21 abstentions. The four no votes were Albania, Cuba, Tanzania, and Zambia.

July 1, 1968: The NPT is opened for signature and is signed by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Article IX of the treaty established that entry into force would require the treaty’s ratification by those three countries (the treaty’s depositories) and 40 additional states. China and France, the other two recognized nuclear-weapon states under the treaty, do not sign it. China argued the treaty was discriminatory and refused to sign or adhere to it. France, on the other hand, indicated that it would not sign the treaty but “would behave in the future in this field exactly as the States adhering to the Treaty.” Both states acceded to the treaty in 1992. Back to Top

1970s

March 5, 1970: The NPT enters into force with 46 states-parties.

A crater marks the site of India’s May 18, 1974 underground nuclear test at Pokhran in the desert state of Rajasthan. (Punjab Photo/AFP/Getty Images)

September 3, 1974: The IAEA publishes the “trigger list” developed by the Zangger Committee, identifying nuclear items that require IAEA safeguards as a condition of export.

May 30, 1975: The 91 states-parties to the NPT hold the treaty’s first review conference. The treaty members decide to hold such conferences to review the implementation of the treaty every five years.

January 11, 1978: States participating in the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group provide the IAEA with a common set of guidelines they will follow in making nuclear exports. The IAEA publishes the guidelines the next month. For more information, see The Nuclear Suppliers Group at a GlanceBack to Top

1980s

Kazakhstani citizens gather to demand a nuclear test ban at the Soviet nuclear test site near Semipalatinsk in August 1989. (UN Photo/MB)The decade was dominated by the Cold War superpower competition of the United States and the Soviet Union. Much of the world held its collective breath during the first years of the decade as tensions and the nuclear arms race heated up between the two rivals, leading to popular anti-nuclear protests worldwide and the nuclear freeze movement in the United States. The international community exhaled a bit in the second half of the decade as the United States and the Soviet Union earnestly sat down at the arms negotiating table and for the first time eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons through the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The two countries also proceeded to negotiate cuts to their strategic nuclear forces, which ultimately would be realized in the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Although the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race was center stage, efforts to advance and constrain the nuclear weapons ambitions and programs of other countries played out in the wings, sometimes as part of the superpower drama. For instance, the United States shunted nonproliferation concerns aside in ignoring Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program because of that country’s role in fighting Soviet forces inside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Iraq, North Korea, and South Africa advanced their nuclear weapons efforts in relative secrecy. In this decade, Iran began to secretly acquire uranium-enrichment-related technology from Pakistani suppliers. Taiwan’s covert nuclear weapons program, however, was squelched by U.S. pressure. Other nonproliferation gains included a joint declaration by Argentina and Brazil to pursue nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes, alleviating fears of a nuclear arms race between the two, and the conclusion of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Pacific. Moreover, the NPT added 30 new states-parties during the decade, including North Korea.

September 7, 1980: The second NPT review conference adopts its final document.

September 25, 1985: The third NPT review conference adopts its final documentBack to Top

 

1990s

The UN Security Council votes on Resolution 687 mandating intrusive inspections in Iraq on April 3, 1991 in New York. (UN Photo/Saw Lwin)

October 4, 1990: The fourth NPT review conference adopts its final document.

April 3, 1991: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 687 requiring Iraq to eliminate its secret nuclear weapons program, which was revealed after the Iraqi defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iraq had illegally pursued the weapons program despite being an NPT state-party. Following the adoption of Resolution 687, the IAEA gained a greater understanding of Iraq’s clandestine program and dismantled and sealed its remnants. The realization that Iraq pursued such a program undetected in spite of agency inspections served as a key impetus to strengthen IAEA safeguards. That effort eventually produced the Model Additional Protocol. The IAEA maintained a presence in Iraq until its inspectors were forced to withdraw in late 1998 on the eve of U.S. and British military strikes against Iraq. 

July 10, 1991: South Africa accedes to the NPT. Two years later, the South African government admits that it had covertly built six completed nuclear devices and then dismantled them before joining the accord. The move to get rid of the weapons was seen as preparation for the coming end of apartheid rule.

March 9, 1992: China accedes to the NPT.

May 23, 1992: Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine sign the Lisbon Protocol committing to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. All three had nuclear weapons when they were Soviet republics. On December 5, 1994, Ukraine becomes the last of the three to accede to the NPT. For more information, see The Lisbon Protocol at a Glance.

August 3, 1992: France, the last of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states, accedes to the NPT.

March 12, 1993: North Korea announces its intention to withdraw from the NPT, but it suspends that withdrawal on June 11, 1993.

April 1, 1993: The IAEA declares North Korea in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations and refers Pyongyang to the UN Security Council.

April 11, 1995: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 984 acknowledging the unilateral pledges by the five nuclear-weapon states not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT. The move is seen as a way to win greater support for the possible indefinite extension of the treaty.

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty states-parties vote to extend the treaty indefinitely May 11, 1995 at  UN Headquarters in New York. (Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images)May 11, 1995: At the fifth NPT review conference, states-parties agree to the treaty’s indefinite extension. Article X of the NPT called for a conference of states-parties to be held 25 years after the treaty’s entry into force in order to determine whether the treaty would remain in force indefinitely or for other additional periods of time. This conference was held in 1995 and began with considerable uncertainty regarding the nature of any extension. Non-nuclear-weapon states, particularly developing countries belonging to the Nonaligned Movement, expressed disappointment with the lack of progress toward nuclear disarmament and feared that a decision to extend the treaty indefinitely would by default enable the nuclear-armed states to hold on to their nuclear arsenals in perpetuity and avoid any accountability in eliminating them. At the conference, Indonesia and South Africa proposed tying the treaty’s indefinite extension to a decision to strengthen the treaty review process. They also linked it to establishment of a set of principles and objectives on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to hold NPT states-parties, particularly the nuclear-weapon states, accountable to their commitments. These principles and objectives include completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and negotiations on the cutoff of fissile material production for weapons purposes. The conference also adopted a resolution calling for establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. This resolution was intended to win support for the indefinite NPT extension from Arab states, which objected to Israel’s status outside the NPT and its assumed possession of nuclear weapons. Although only a majority of states-parties was required to approve the indefinite extension, the agreed package of decisions obtained enough support that such a vote was not required.

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty September 24, 1996 at UN Headquarters in New York. (Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images)September 24, 1996: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty outlawing nuclear explosions is opened for signature. The treaty has yet to enter into force because not all of the requisite states, including China, India, Pakistan, and the United States, have ratified it. For more information, see The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at a Glance.

May 15, 1997: The IAEA adopts the Model Additional Protocol, a voluntary safeguards agreement for a state to give the agency greater powers to verify that illegal nuclear weapons-related activities are not taking place inside that state. The protocol was developed in response to Iraq’s and North Korea’s illicit actions under the treaty. For more information, see The 1997 Additional Protocol at a Glance. Back to Top

 

2000s

May 22, 2000: The NPT states-parties agree to a final document at the sixth review conference that outlines the so-called 13 steps for progress toward nuclear disarmament, including an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

January 10, 2003: North Korea announces its withdrawal from the NPT. North Korea initially announced its intent to withdraw from the NPT a decade earlier following suspicions of NPT violations. After holding talks with the United States, North Korea suspended that withdrawal in June 1993, just a day before it would have come into effect. It further agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program under a 1994 agreement with the United States. Following the collapse of that agreement in 2002, North Korea declared January 10, 2003, that, with only one day remaining of its previous three-month notification requirement to withdraw from the NPT, its withdrawal would come into effect a day later. Although the legality of North Korea’s process of withdrawal remains in question, subsequent calls by the UN and the IAEA for Pyongyang to return to the NPT demonstrate a recognition that it is currently outside the treaty. Article X of the NPT recognizes the right of states to withdraw from the treaty if that party’s “supreme interests” are jeopardized by “extraordinary events.” States are required to give notice three months in advance before such a withdrawal would take effect. In light of North Korea’s withdrawal and subsequent development of nuclear weapons, the 2005 NPT review conference considered ways to ensure that states that withdraw from the treaty are not able to use technologies and materials obtained while an NPT state-party to pursue nuclear weapons. 

June 6, 2003: The IAEA issues a report detailing Iranian clandestine nuclear activities that Tehran failed to report to the agency, in violation of its safeguards agreement.

December 19, 2003: Libya announces that it will dismantle its WMD programs, including a secret nuclear weapons program, and agrees to IAEA inspections and adherence to an additional protocol. 

May 2, 2005: The seventh NPT review conference opened at the United Nations in New York.

September 19, 2005: North Korea commits to abandoning its nuclear weapons and programs and returning to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards in an agreement of the six-party talks on North Korean denuclearization.

September 24, 2005: The IAEA finds Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations after nearly two years of inspections into its undeclared nuclear activities. The agency in February 2006 refers Iran to the UN Security Council, which adopts three sanctions resolutions against Iran over the next two years. IAEA investigations continue into Iran’s past and current nuclear activities.

During a May 25 press briefing in Seoul, a South Korean meteorological official displays charts that demonstrate the sudden spike in seismic activity at the time of North Korea’s nuclear test earlier that day. (Park Yeong-Dae/AFP/Getty Images)

September 6, 2008: The Nuclear Suppliers Group agrees to permit trade in nuclear material and technology with India, despite that country’s status as a nonparty to the NPT and de facto nuclear-weapon state. Back to Top

2010s

May 3-28 2010: The eighth NPT review conference takes place. For more information, see the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference factsheet.

February 5, 2011: The New START treaty enters into force. The US and Russia agree to reduce strategic and offensive arms. The treaty’s central limits must be reached by February 5, 2018. New START reduces the number of deployed nuclear warheads that each state can have to 1,550 each. For more information, see New START at a Glance.

June 2011: The United Kingdom announces voluntary planned reductions in its deployed nuclear forces set to be accomplished by early 2015. When complete, the United Kingdom will have 120 deployed strategic warheads, with 60 warheads in reserve to support the maintenance and management of the operational force. All excess warheads will be dismantled by the mid-2020s.

November 2012: The conveners (Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the UN) of a conference to establish a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East announce that the conference will be postponed because not all states in the region agree on an agenda for the conference.

March 2013: Norway hosts the first Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, with participation from 127 states. The conference focused on scientific findings on the impact of nuclear weapons use on humans, the environment, and global climate. The five recognized nuclear weapon states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) all decide not to attend.

February 2013: A second conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Mexico, with 146 states in attendance. The conference called for greater efforts on disarmament and an initiative to reach new international standards and norms to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states do not participate in the conference. 

May 2014: All five nuclear weapon states sign the protocol for the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (CANFWZ) treaty. The CANFWZ applies to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

November 2014: France ratifies the CANFWZ.

December 2014: A third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Vienna. The US and the UK decide to attend and China choses to send an observer. Over 150 countries and several international and civil society organizations participate. Over 60 countries sign a pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.

January 2015: The United Kingdom ratifies the CANFWZ.

April 27-May 22, 2015: The ninth Review Conference for the NPT is held at the UN in New York, but it ends May 22 without agreement on a final conference document as key states parties could not bridge differences on the process for convening a conference on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and disagreements between the nuclear-weapon states and nonnuclear weapons states over the pace of implementation of Article VI of the treaty and action steps agreed at the 2010 conference. After nearly four weeks of sometimes acrimonious negotiations the conference president, Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, presented a consolidated draft final document for adoption by consensus on the final day of the meeting. But the United States, the U.K. and Canada announced in the in final hours they could not support the formula presented in the document for pursuing a conference to discuss the Middle East zone. 

With the five nuclear weapon states either unable or unwilling to make further disarmament commitments, a group of 107 states endorsed a statement, known as the “Humanitarian Pledge,” which calls on states "to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons."

July 14, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curtail Iran sensitive  nuclear fuel cycle activities under strengthened safegaurds.

November 2016: UN General Assembly First Committee approves a resolution for a negotiating conference on a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions. 

July 7, 2017: The second and final round of negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons concluded with states voting 122-1-1 to adopt the treaty.

September 20, 2017: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is opened for signature. 

February 5, 2018: Central limits on strategic nuclear forces imposed by New START take effect. Both Russia and the United States meet the limits

Back to Top

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Grasping at Straws

The Trump Administration and its supporters outside of the U.S. government are laboring mightily to convince the international community that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a bad deal for the United States. Unfortunately for them, Iranian compliance keeps getting in the way. We can see this in the way in which senior U.S. government officials speak to issues of Iranian compliance. During press availability on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Secretary of State Tillerson was careful to note that Iran is in “ technical ” compliance with the JCPOA, but argued that this...

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 2017

EU Affirms Iran Deal Compliance, Rejects Renegotiation EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated unequivocally after a ministerial meeting between the P5+1 (China, France Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran that all parties agreed that the nuclear deal is being fully implemented and there are no violations. She said that the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is delivering on its purpose, and there is “no need to renegotiate parts of the agreement.” Mogherini said that issues outside the scope of the deal should be “...

ACA-YPFP NextGen Voices: The Untold Story in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Saga

Sections:

Body: 

What: Short Film "Marshalling Peace" and
NextGen Discussion

When Tuesday, August 29
7:00-8:30pm

Where1619 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036 

On August 29 - the International Day Against Nuclear Testing - ​NextGen filmmaker Autumn Bordner joins Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) and the Arms Control Association for a​n exclusive​ showing of Marshalling Peace​. Autumn traveled to the Marshall Islands to research the lingering effects of U.S. nuclear testing conducted there during the Cold War. Her short film documents the tiny nation's legal battle against nuclear weapons​-holding superpowers​, and the​ devastating effects of the U.S. nuclear testing program on the Marshallese people.

Autumn and the Association's Executive Director Daryl Kimball will facilitate a discussion on the future of nuclear weapons threats and the ways NextGen leaders can shape today's and tomorrow's nuclear policies. YPFP's Danielle Preskitt (a former Association intern) will moderate.

The Panelists:

Autumn Bordner is a rising second year at Stanford Law School. Prior to matriculating at Stanford, Autumn worked as an environmental consultant at ICF, and as a fellow with the K1 Project, Center for Nuclear Studies, a research institute that she co-founded as an undergraduate at Columbia University. Autumn is also a member of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Youth Group. In this capacity, she is working to advance the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Daryl G. Kimball became the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association in September 2001. The Arms Control Association is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to public education and support of effective arms control measures pertaining to nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons. Find his complete bio here.

                                                                 

Description: 

ACA and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) are hosting an event featuring a​n exclusive​ showing of Marshalling Peace and a discussion on the future of nuclear weapons threats and the ways NextGen leaders can shape today's and tomorrow's nuclear policies.

New Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty Marks a Turning Point

Sections:

Body: 

Statement by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director

For Immediate Release: July 7, 2017

Media ContactsDaryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104; Alicia Sanders-Zakre, research assistant, (202) 463-8270 x113

(United Nations, New York)—Today at United Nations headquarters, more than 130 states concluded negotiations on and adopted a new “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.”

Photo credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear WeaponsThe new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons marks a new phase in the seven-decade-long effort to prevent nuclear war. For the first time since the invention of the Bomb, nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and“stationing” of another country’s nuclear weapons on a states party's national territory are all expressly prohibited in a global treaty. The treaty also requires states to provide assistance to those affected by nuclear weapons use and testing.

While the treaty itself will not immediately eliminate any nuclear weapons, the treaty can, over time, further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use. Steps aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic nuclear weapons use are necessary and should be welcomed.

The new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons aims to reinforce the key disarmament component (Article VI) of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires its 190+ states parties to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.

Under the new treaty, states may not“test” nuclear weapons or any other nuclear explosive devices. This simply reinforces the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which prohibits“any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” and has been signed by 183 states, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

The new treaty, which was negotiated by a group of some 130 non-nuclear weapon states, is an expression of the deep concern about the enormous risks posed by nuclear weapons and the growing frustration with the failure of the nuclear-armed states to fulfill their nuclear disarmament commitments. The initiative underscores the need for thenuclear weapons states’ to meet their existing legal obligations to end the nuclear arms race and pursue disarmament and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

In our view, and in the view of many delegations, the final text of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty should have been stronger. Key areas, particularly Article 3, which outlines the requirements for safeguards against nuclear weapons programs, could have been strengthened and improved.

While the new treaty usefully outlines key objectives for verifying disarmament by nuclear-armed states in the future, the new treaty only obligatesstates parties not possessing nuclear weapons to maintain or bring into force a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA“at a minimum."

Unfortunately, the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons makes no specific reference to the value of more rigorous inspection procedures, known as the Additional Protocol or “AP+” measures, which is a goalthat states parties at this conference have already agreed to pursue in the context of the NPT. The 2000, 2010, and 2015 NPT Review Conference reports all stressed “that comprehensive safeguards and additional protocols should be universally applied once the complete elimination of nuclear weapons has been achieved.”The history of the Iraqi, North Korean, and Iranian nuclear programs shows that the IAEA safeguards regime must and has and will continue to evolve in order to effectively guard against clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

The new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a historic step forward but, clearly, it is not an all-in-one solution to the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Additional and difficult work lies ahead.

Prohibition treaty supporters, skeptics, and opponents must put aside their disagreements about the new agreement and find new and creative ways to come together to strengthen the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime.

They must focus on advancing new and effective disarmament measures, while pursuing policies that ease the growing tensions between nuclear-armed states and increase the danger of nuclear weapons use.

Such measures include but are not limited to:

  • securing the remaining eight ratifications, including the United States, China, Iran and Israel, needed to bring the CTBT into force;
  • reviving the moribund U.S.-Russian arms control and risk reduction dialogue, including resolving U.S.-Russian treaty compliance disputes and extending the New START agreement beyond 2021;
  • bringing China, India, and Pakistan further into the nuclear risk reduction and disarmament process;
  • avoiding the introduction of new and destabilizing nuclear weapons systems and capabilities;
  • concluding an agreement on legally-binding negative nuclear security assurances for nonnuclear-weapon states;
  • continuing to implement and build upon the agreement between Iran and six world powers that verifiably limits its weapons-relevant nuclear activities; and
  • engaging in pragmatic and sustained diplomacy with North Korea, coupled with smart sanctions, to halt and reverse that country’sdangerous nuclear pursuits.

Nuclear weapons pose a global threat that demands global cooperation. Now is the time for stronger and smarter leadership from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing, as well as more active support from the world’s non-nuclear weapon states.

###

The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Description: 

For the first time since the invention of the Bomb, nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and“stationing” of another country’s nuclear weapons on a states party's national territory are all expressly prohibited in a global treaty.

Banning the Bomb—A Blog of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Talks

Alicia Sanders-Zakre will be tweeting and blogging throughout the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Talks at the United Nations. Follow her real-time updates at twitter.com/azakre . Second Negotiating Session: June 15-July 7, 2017 UN Adopts Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons July 7, 2017 Today by a vote of 122-1 with 1 abstention, states adopted a historic treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons at the United Nations in New York. The Netherlands voted against the treaty and Singapore abstained. Before adopting the treaty, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez declared that “after many decades, we have managed to...

Old Disputes Cloud NPT Review

June 2017

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

As a review cycle began for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), old divisions quickly re-emerged that will challenge efforts to reach a successful outcome at the 2020 review conference of states-parties to the NPT.

Diplomats at the initial UN meeting to prepare for the review conference voiced support for a number of disarmament and nonproliferation initiatives, but stumbled on familiar obstacles, namely the pace of disarmament and how to advance the initiative for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East.

Izumi Nakamitsu, UN undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs, addresses the NPT preparatory committee meeting in Vienna, as Ambassador Henk Cor van der Kwast of the Netherlands, the committee chairman, looks on. (Photo caption: Agata Wozniak/ UNIS Vienna)The 2020 review conference assumes additional importance following the failure of the 2015 review conference to produce a consensus document and the growing frustration of the non-nuclear-weapon states at the lack of action by nuclear powers, particularly the United States and Russia, to deliver on their legally binding disarmament obligations under the 1968 treaty. A second consecutive failure would risk weakening the global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime, including efforts to block nuclear weapons activities by Iran and North Korea.

The May 2-12 preparatory committee meeting, chaired by Henk Cor van der Kwast of the Netherlands, is the first of three conferences leading up to the 2020 review conference. “At the start of a review cycle, one is almost under an obligation to be positive—to see the glass, at least, as half-full,” Dell Higgie, New Zealand’s ambassador for disarmament, told the meeting May 2, while adding, “To suggest that optimism should be the order of the day is not, however, to minimize the challenges we face.”

The next preparatory committee meeting will take place in Geneva in 2018 and will be chaired by Adam Bugajski, Poland’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The review conference likely will be chaired by Rafael Grossi, Argentina’s ambassador to Austria and to international organizations in Vienna.

The preparatory committee discussions covered the three pillars of the NPT: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear energy. On many issues, there was general agreement.

Many states expressed support for convening a panel of experts on a fissile material cutoff treaty; continuing implementation of the nuclear deal involving Iran; IAEA safeguards, including comprehensive safeguard agreements and the IAEA Model Additional Protocol; the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under Article IV of the treaty; and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was specifically endorsed in a joint appeal by Japan, Kazakhstan, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.

The preparatory committee also was united in condemning North Korea’s continued nuclear weapons and missile testing. “Such brazen disregard for international norms and binding obligations is unprecedented in the history of the NPT,” said South Korean Ambassador Kim In-chul on May 8.

The U.S. priority was to show international resolve against North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, Robert Wood, U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, said at an April 28 news conference. Sixty-two states condemned North Korea’s actions in a statement submitted May 10 by France and South Korea. The declaration, however, did not deter North Korea from conducting another launch test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on May 14.

The pace of disarmament and how to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East—the two issues that have obstructed past NPT review cycles—continued to elicit disagreement in the 2017 preparatory commission. Many non-nuclear-weapon states consider that the nuclear disarmament pace is too slow, alleging that nuclear-weapon states have failed to fulfill obligations under Article VI of the NPT to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.” Nuclear-weapon states contend that they have made progress on disarmament in the past decades and advocate a “step-by-step” approach of pursuing practical disarmament initiatives dependent on the security environment.

Ban Treaty

The tensions on this issue are playing out in UN negotiations, involving about 130 countries, which aim to complete a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons by July 7 (see "Ban Talks Advance With Treaty Draft", this issue). The nuclear-weapon countries and most U.S. defense treaty allies are boycotting the negotiations.

The division on the ban treaty was particularly apparent during the critiques of the chairman’s summary on the final day of the conference. Strong supporters of the ban treaty, such as Ireland and South Africa, regretted that the issue did not feature more prominently, while the United Kingdom explained that it could not support the summary due to its reference to the nuclear ban.

U.S. Ambassador Robert A. Wood, U.S. permanent represen­tative to the Conference on Disarmament, presents the U.S. statement May 2 at the NPT preparatory committee meeting in Vienna. (Photo caption: U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna)Russia also rejected the ban negotiations. “The conceptual framework of the negotiation process, which in effect ignores the strategic context and addresses the elimination of nuclear weapons in isolation from existing realities, is unacceptable for us,” Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov said in a May 5 statement.

States were split on how to advance a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, which has been a sticking point among NPT states-parties since the 1995 review and extension conference, when they adopted a resolution calling for practical steps to adopt such a zone. At the 2010 review conference, NPT states-parties put forward five steps in the final document to achieve the WMD-free zone, including the convening of a conference in 2012 on the issue. Unable to reach agreement on an agenda for that conference, the conveners, which included Russia, the UK, and the United States, announced in November 2012 that the meeting, originally scheduled for December, would be postponed. (See ACT, December 2012.)

Disagreement over the WMD-free zone stymied the 2015 review conference. States-parties failed to pass a final consensus document because Canada, the UK, and the United States rejected text proposed by Egypt, which was reflected in the final document, calling for new deadlines to reach agreement on an agenda for advancing the Middle Eastern WMD-free zone. (See ACT, June 2015.) Egypt’s push to include this text in the final document caused a rift among Arab League members, many of whom disagreed with Egypt’s proposal.

The splintering of the Arab League continued into the 2017 preparatory committee, at which the Arab League did not present a unified statement. Egypt, Iran, and a group of 12 Arab League members, including Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, each offered separate working papers on advancing the WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Egypt’s working paper expresses concern over the lack of implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and demands that the next review cycle call on Israel to join the NPT.

In its working paper, the group of 12 Arab League states, not including Egypt, also recommended that Israel join the NPT, but emphasized that a conference on the WMD-free zone should take place under the auspices of the three depositories of the treaty: Russia, the UK, and the United States. Russia also criticized the lack of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and submitted its own working paper to advance the convening of a conference before the 2020 review conference on the issue.

‘Misguided Attempts’

The United States stated that the conditions necessary for a Middle Eastern WMD-free zone do not currently exist, adding that “misguided attempts to coerce an outcome, or to hold the NPT review process hostage, indicate a misunderstanding of the function and purpose of weapons-free zones.”

In a new development in the NPT review cycles, there were calls from many states for more gender equality in disarmament forums. Ireland submitted a working paper on the subject, and the European Union stated that “promotion of gender equality, gender consciousness and empowerment of women remains a key priority for the EU, including in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.” Australia, in a May 10 statement, pointed out that there were too few female delegates at the preparatory committee. 

Old Disputes Cloud NPT Review

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